Weight Belts ... Friend or Foe ?
I was given Stuart McGill's Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by a client , great book. After reading the chapter discussing this I bring it to you . Personally , Iam not a fan of the weight belt . To me it's a "wait" and see belt , wait to see how deconditioned your back is after using it. When I see gym goers weraing them I shutter.
Here are some of the key points of Stuart McGill's research :
If you never injured your back, wearing a belt adds no safety.
If you injure yourself while wearing a belt, the injury is more severe.
To get the most out of weight belts, you must lift with bad technique.
If you want to lift a few more pounds, wear a weight belt.
What do you think ? Friend or Foe ?
1) If you've never injured your back, and you don't wish to, then a weight belt is the right tool for lifting a maximum amount of weight for a record or competition.
2) If you get an injury while properly using a weight belt, YES, the injury is typically more severe because you would be lifting more weight than your body can naturally handle.
3) If you want to get the most out of a weight belt you DO NOT need to use bad technique. You need to use a modified technique to adapt to the belt.
4) If you are at your absolute 1-2 rep maximum and you still want to lift a few more pounds, a weight belt can help that to happen. If you just want to move more weight without becoming as strong as your physique can ultimately become, you would be better served by improving your technique.
I have a buddy that moves furniture for a living and for him the belt is a friend. For most I see with them in a gym setting, its a foe because it hiders them from developing without it first.
The answers on this question might help: http://www.ideafit.com/answers/weightlifting-belts
I do not use it and would advise any client against it.
I teach my clients to protect their spine without further need for external support and only use the amount of resistance that can be handled without compromising that goal.
Having said that, if people are in competition where they go to the limits of their strength, then there is a place for those belts. But even there, I would hope that the athletes would do all they can to work the stabilizing muscles to the greatest extent possible.
Friend for sure...I posted a question about weightlifting belts here at IDEAFIT:
If you have to wear a weight belt you're lifting above your means
Great for some, but badly used by many. Someone needs to be able to efficiently lift without one within their means before they start to use one.
Back exercises are something to always be carefully approached because they can be extremely dangerous.
When they're ready to lift higher than their erector spinae can resist, then its time for a belt.
Same here, there is a time and place for just about anything. The weight belt debate will probably never end.
I believe in strengthening the body so it does not need the extra outside support. Only professionally training power lifters/athletes should be using the belt. I do not think it is worth the risk for others to go beyond their means.